- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 22, 2006

Check back in 2008

“Dear Inside the Beltway: I have enjoyed your column. Enclosed is a copy of a fictional political thriller I have written that I am submitting for your enjoyment. Please let me know how accurate it is of the real Washington.”

Terry Heath, Colton, Calif.

Title of the book: “The President-Elect Must Die!”

Fictional Hillary

Another well-published author, Jay Inchardi of Brunswick, Maine, writes that he enjoyed our recent satirical item about “The Americans With No Abilities Act.”

“I took the same idea even further,” he reveals of his book “Queen B,” in which a “president for life,” a woman, decides to ease the discontent of the masses by holding a lottery in which all titles and claims to professional expertise are distributed by chance.

“This was only one of her many brilliant improvisations, and of course is a satire on the nanny state, and, in part, on Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and her friends,” Mr. Inchardi explains.

“I just wanted to remind you, having read your piece, that fiction (serious fiction) can tap a nerve as well as journalism can.”

Progressive vision

When it comes to the Democratic Party, Simon Rosenberg can’t wait for the future.

But first, there is today’s start of the annual meeting of the NDN, formerly known as the New Democrat Network, the progressive political organization that the Washington campaign operative founded in 1996. Title of the Mayflower Hotel conference: “What Comes Next: A New Politics for America.”

Toward that end, luncheon remarks will be delivered today by former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, followed by a breakfast address tomorrow by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. Both Democrats are considered potential presidential candidates in 2008.

“Warner will be speaking about competitiveness and economic policy,” Mr. Rosenberg tells Inside the Beltway, while Mrs. Clinton provided no specifics.

“We have put together a strong couple of days,” he says. “We will lay out ideas and tackle emerging challenges of the 21st century. We will hear from important leaders like Governor Warner and Senator Clinton, who happen to be among those leading the pack early in the 2008 presidential race. But we’ll also hear from others — a strong mix of, shall we say, civil and state.

“I’m optimistic,” he adds of potential Democratic gains. “The Republican government has failed and given us tremendous opportunities.”

The NDN is reminding conference participants that Republicans of late have been “long on sales and marketing and short on effective governance,” turning record budget surpluses into deficits, while overseeing declining wages, an increase in personal bankruptcies, rising health care and college costs, and more uninsured Americans.

Church and state

Confused about which candidates to support this fall? Here’s a twist.

The political organization Priests for Life says it will lead an 18-week prayer campaign to prepare voters for the 2006 midterm elections.

“This is a double novena, a pair of nine-week periods of prayer, starting on Tuesday, the Fourth of July, and concluding on Tuesday, November 7, which is Election Day,” said the Rev. Frank Pavone, the pro-life group’s national director. In addition, the priests have published a booklet, “Ten Easy Steps to Voting with a Clear Conscience.”

Filing from bed

The White House ought to take a hint from the Austrian government and provide more plush quarters for members of the White House press corps.

In this country, while the president is appearing on various stages, the White House press corps is holed up in barren rooms, halls and airport hangars, decorated at best with folding chairs, throw rugs and battery-operated clocks.

Now, consider the treatment of the White House press by the Austrians, hosts of this week’s summit with President Bush and European leaders.

While Mr. Bush was conducting his official affairs, we read in the pool report that the White House press was provided “an ornate room at the Hofburg Palace that once was [Maria Theresa’s] bedchamber and serves as a ceremonial reception room.”

“The room features silken red walls, gold stucco on the ceilings and two life-sized paintings of [Maria Theresa] and Francis I in ceremonial robes (one interesting piece of furniture … is a tall astronomical clock in which the dial shows local time inverted so the number 9 is on the right and 3 is on the left; one explanation is that this allowed [Maria Theresa] to see the time of day by glimpsing in the giant mirror and without having to get out of bed.)”

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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